Making it to the End - Part III
Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.
- 2006 Sep 13
You will make it to the end if you know Christ! From first to last, salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9). We can have peace in our hearts as we rest in Christ for final salvation. In parts one and two of this article, we have labored to demonstrate this wonderful reality. A final, biblical implication from 1 Thes. 5:23-27 is offered here as we consider this all important subject. Our prayer is that you will look to Christ more and more each day.
Fourth, the good news is that we can receive the spiritual revelation and power we need to be saved in the end. We've noted that God's work in our lives is grounded in His faithfulness (23-24). God is the One who called us and He is the One who will work 24). He will sanctify us and He will preserve us (23).
Now, our responsibility falls under the sovereign work of God in us. In other words, God's work in our lives is accomplished through His means. God uses prayer (25), fellowship (26), and scripture (27) among other things to accomplish His work in our lives.
In regard to prayer, Paul says, "Brethren, pray for us." In one sense this is a general request at the end of a letter. Paul is requesting prayer for himself, his co-laborers in ministry, and in an implied way that the gospel might advance. At the same time, Paul's focus is still the Lord. He asks the brethren, those who are in union with him by virtue of their union with Christ, to go to the Lord for them. He asks them to go to the Lord because again, the Lord is the only One who can work effectually in hearts and lives: including theirs. God is the only One who can sanctify and give gospel success. We are completely dependent upon the Lord for all things.
In regard to fellowship, Paul urges them to "Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss." The holy kiss was a sign of affection much like a strong embrace in our culture. As Paul has done from the outset of this letter, he once again expresses his love for the Thessalonian church. He wants to demonstrate that love in a tangible way. Were they face to face, this is how Paul would greet them. Thus, he greets them in this way by proxy.
Further, once again, the emphasis here is upon brotherhood, that is, family and the bond that Christians have with one another as a result of the bond they have with Christ. The word brethren implicitly places the emphasis once again upon God.
In regard to scripture, Paul urges the believers to read his letter to the entire church and indeed all Christians with whom they have contact. He says with all seriousness, "I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren." The word charge connotes that this command is not to be ignored. There is nothing more serious than the word of God.
Paul gives this charge because he has answered the questions that have been troubling the Thessalonians, because he has defended his apostleship and ministry against the false teachers, and because he has laid down some important teaching in regard to God and His gospel. He also knows that it is the word of God that works effectually in the hearts of believers (2:13). His focus has not changed. He is concerned with their love for one another, their witness to the world, and their continued sanctification. It is His own word that God uses to sanctify His people. Paul’s focus is once again the Lord.
Of course, in all of the foregoing, it is critical that we remember that God's work in our lives is connected to His Son (28). He's the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Understand that Paul closes in typical fashion, yet, the focus on the effectual work of the Lord is in place here as well. He leaves them with this prayer, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen." It is God’s grace mediated through the Lord Jesus Christ that Christians need everyday for sanctification. God's grace must be with us in an effectual way bringing us into submission to God’s commands, conformity to His Son, and working in us joy in the Holy Spirit. We must have grace if we are to have a revelation of God and spiritual power for daily living. If we have grace, by God, it works in us effectually all the way to the day of deliverance.
[Scroll Down for Parts I and II]
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